Seven persons, including four children, were burnt alive in a fire that destroyed more than 100 tents in a temporary settlement colony near Gundla Pochampally village, about 10 kilometres north of the State capital on Saturday afternoon.

The colony was inhabited by migrant labourers, working on different housing projects on the outskirts of Hyderabad. The victims hail from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and districts surrounding Hyderabad.

More than 400 people live in the tents erected on the one-acre site near the housing projects. With labourers away at their work sites, old men and women, and children were in the tents when the tents caught fire. A cylinder explosion is believed to have sparked the flames.

“I was in the tent with my brother. Someone shouted that the tents were on fire. I woke up my brother and we ran out just in time,” Renuka, a 12-year-old girl said.

Even before the fire tenders reached the place, the makeshift dwellings were reduced to ashes, along with nearly all the belongings of over a hundred families.

Officials who rushed to the spot could identify three of the victims as a woman Baldi, her grandson Khaja and one Tayappa. The other four have not yet been identified.

Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy will supervise relief operations.